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Category Archives: canon


– Changed cabin air filters in car (saved $50 doing it myself!)
– Removed a bunch of wood paneling and boards that previously made up some walls in the basement.
– Replaced tub faucet
– Took down wall shelves in bedroom
– Hung/wired light fixture

– Cut/removed a bunch of nails protruding from bottom of floor boards in basement ceiling.

Grade: A. Couldn’t be more excited about spending the day on my feet and not on couch playing video games.


– Cut holes for and installed deadbolt lock for workshop in garage whilst listening to loud, drunk shouting of 4 20 somethings who were celebrating the northwest side Irish parade (which is about a block away from new house) a bit too loudly and vulgarly.
– Removed final bits of paneling and boards from weird basement walls. Began to worry that one of the beams might possibly be supporting the floor above. Put beam and header back in.
– Broke window by moving stepladder while it was open from one room to the other. Panicked. Ran to home depot for plywood and wood screws. Cut plywood too small. Dropped first wood screw down heat register. Misplaced screwdriver bit for 5 minutes. Realized there’s a GODDAMN STORM WINDOW IN ALREADY. Put up plywood anyway because fuck it.

Grade: C-. Went home to play video games. Hurriedly put my name and phone number in a on-hindsight-obviously-fake window replacement cost estimate website resulting in my phone rigning off the goddamn hook all day. Started dinner — cauliflower crust pizza which I broke and left in the oven too long.

We decided it would be called Feaster. This year we made Italian Easter Pie (torta rustica) and Hummingbird Cake (flappybirda cakica).

I take many web-based surveys for e-rewards (because my opinion is important — and they pay me in GameStop gift cards which I use to feed my video game addiction) and having done countless numbers of these, I sometimes go on auto-pilot.

Recently when I was asked to enter the year of my birth, I entered my zip code. Instead of rejecting my answer as out-of-bounds, the site kicked me back to the home page as being not the target demographic for the survey.

Because it thinks I am a time-traveling survey-taker from the year 60,626.

Day 1: Write a poem where each line starts with a letter from your first name (an acrostic). It can be about anything, but it should not be about you or your name.

As I try to
deliver on my campaign promises, I
am reminded that
mostly, I am a liar.

(It’s like paparazzi  but for grammar. Some people say “grammar nazi” but… let’s admit it “nazi” is an overused term and not one I’d ever apply to myself and blah blah blah.)

Email from coworker:

“If you need to reserve a room, contact myself, Suzie W, Anne B, or Paula O.”

My first response: “When will she learn that ‘myself’ is a reflexive pronoun. It should be ‘If you need to reserve a room, contact Suzie W or me.'”

Second response: “You should only use myself if you were saying something like ‘I reserved a room by myself.'”

Third response: “I need to stop caring about this shit.”


A couple times now, I’ve taken part in the Lifeline Theatre Storytelling Project — on Monday nights, a few intrepid souls will perform personal stories that they’ve written. Last night, I told this story:

The Trooper

I’ve managed to collect a few scars in my life. Most of them are nothing more than small white lines; evidence of my inability to properly slice vegetables; testaments to my hack-and-slash approach to shaving. Nothing that tells a story of courage and daring-do. But there is one  — one that I prize above all the rest — that is more interesting: one that tells a tale of fortune and glory, of a battle hard-fought and won. It is on my left wrist, a nickel-sized patch of wrinkled skin, and this is its story.

I was 14 – a freshman in high school – and a friend offered me a one-day job walking around one of the northern suburbs going door-to-door to hand out flyers for some politician. It was a long, grueling day, but it paid the unheard-of sum of one hundred dollars. A hundred dollars? I’d never had a hundred dollars before.

Well, that money was burning a hole in my pocket. So two days later, after school, I walked over to the strip mall on Dempster & Dodge and strolled into the Sound Warehouse — you know, back when music stores still existed. I probably spent an hour in the store trying to figure out what to buy. I don’t remember what else I looked at but I can tell you exactly what I bought: Automatic by Jesus & Mary Chain and a poster from Iron Maiden’s single “The Trooper.” A strange juxtaposition, I know, but I was eclectic way before it was cool.

I left the store and headed back up the street towards home. I hadn’t gotten more than three blocks when I saw a large 2-door car — a Lincoln Continental or a Grand Marquis — driving the opposite way down the street. The driver called out to me:

“Hey man. You want to buy some weed? I’ve got dime bags.”

Now, I was 14, and I’d smoked some pot, but I hadn’t really found it to be all that interesting. But I had friends that were into it, and I was suddenly filled with what I would later realize was the desire to be the “playmaker.” The guy who gets the assist. So that when I was hanging out with friends and someone asked, “Does anybody have any weed?” I could casually say, “Oh, uh, hey, I’ve got some.” And everybody would remember me as the guy who, that one time, had some pot.

And I had money. And it was just burning a hole in my pocket.

I walked out into the street, approached the car, leaned down into the open window, the Iron Maiden poster rolled up tight and held securely between my legs. Automatic was in its jewel case in my left jean jacket pocket. “How much?” I asked. “Ten bucks?” I thought I remembered someone saying that that’s how much a dime bag cost.

“Yeah,” said the driver. “Sure. Ten bucks.”

This being my first drug deal, I didn’t know the best way to proceed; I didn’t know that asking to first “see the stuff” was a good idea. I pulled a ten from my pocket and handed it over. The driver took the bill, tucked it into the waistband of his shorts…. And started driving off.

But not fast enough that I couldn’t grab onto the door of the car and trot alongside, yelling, probably inappropriately loudly for the neighborhood we were in, and the illegal activity we had just been transacting, “Give me my fucking money!”

Unsurprisingly, the only effect this had on the driver was to make him speed up. Just a little. Just the slightest additional pressure applied by his foot onto the gas pedal. Just enough to turn my trot into a gallop. I was undeterred. “Give me my fucking money!”

The car went faster still, until my feet could no longer keep up. I felt my the toes of my shoes scrape along the pavement, and then my knees, and then my left hand. My right hand? Still locked tight on the door of the car. I was being dragged down the street.

I wish I could recall what thoughts were going through my head at that moment. God only knows why I didn’t let go. It was only ten dollars, it wasn’t worth being run over by a car. Most likely, there were no thoughts other than “Oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck” — the kind of running refrain that drowns out thought, makes it impossible to take any sort of action at all.

I’d also love to know what the guys in the car were thinking. It had started as a beautiful early spring day, just two buddies out for a drive, running their simple con: find some dumb kid who looks like he’s got a few extra bucks, get him to hand over the money and drive off. What could be easier? Then, suddenly, there’s someone hanging off the side of the damn car. Do you plan for this during your morning meeting? Like, “Okay, I know this sounds insane, but on the off chance that there’s someone hanging onto the car, here’s what we do….”

Here is something I learned that day: when you’re being dragged by a car, every second feels like a minute; every foot feels like a mile. I don’t know how far we’d gone. It was probably only a block at the most when I finally lost my grip on the car and fell to the pavement.

My thoughts then? Fuck. There goes my 10 dollars. Also, probably, Ouch.

But, instead of tearing off like I expected, the car stopped. I’d like to think that I leaped to my feet and brushed some dirt from my shoulders like, I do this shit all the time, now, sir, about my fucking money. But, more likely, it was me peeling myself off the pavement, dazed, confused. Staggering to my feet. What happens now?

And here’s the part that people often find hard to believe. Hell, I find it hard to believe myself. The dude driving the car pulled my ten dollar bill from his waistband and held it out to me. “You’re fucking crazy!” I took the money; they drove off.

I was left standing in the street to take stock of my situation: my jeans and jacket were ripped, my knees were both scraped and bleeding, and my left wrist which apparently had taken the most damage was torn open. But, other than that, I was little worse for wear. Even with all the pain there was still a small smile on my face, a feeling of elation. They had tried to con me, but thanks to my complete and utter lack of foresight and rational thought, I had managed to come out on top; a little bloody maybe, but still on top.

So I limped back to find my poster lying in the middle of the street, picked it up, and headed home. Along the way, I tried to come up with a story to tell my family about what had caused my wounds. A story that didn’t include trying to buy weed or getting dragged by a car. I’m pretty sure I went with “I fell down.” or something along those lines.

But we knew the truth: the twisted, snarling, skeletal solider and me. And while that poster has long since been relegated to the trash bin,  I still have that scar: a permanent reminder that there’s a right way and a wrong way to buy weed; that my life is worth a bit more than ten bucks; but that sometimes, very occasionally, you need to be fucking crazy in order to win the day.


Just received a 3 ring binder full of poems/stories/notes/crap dating from 1990 from Julie, a high school friend who was apparently the person upon whom I dumped every thought I ever had. Much of it is stuff I have come across in the intervening years but there are a few pieces which I don’t remember at all. Here is the best:



I was so drunk that I almost said: Hey Mikey!
Hey Mikey!

I was so angry that I lost my head: Hey Mikey!
Hey Mikey!

We danced upon the shore until we didn’t feel like dancing anymore
We laughed; we cried; tears ran until they dried
Hey Mikey!
Hey Mikey!

These days we travel to and fro back and forth Hey Mikey!
Trying to find out just how much we’re worth Hey Mikey!

Run to the store: buy a loaf of pita bread.
Run to the store: buy a loaf of minstrels.

Come back for more: make use of pita bread.
Come back for more: make use of minstrels.
Come back for more: Call his name Hey Mikey!
Come back for more: make use of minstrels.

Playing Hoopla the other day and decided to turn it into a writing exercise — twice  picked out three cards (a who, a what and a where) and then spent 7 minutes writing a story based on the cards chosen.

I chose “cheerleader”, “funhouse”, and “Mardi Gras”

“This is a sick joke,” the cheerleader said. “Why did you bring me here?”

The fun house was silent. Outside the party raged on — New Orleans, Mardi Gras, it had all seemed like such a great idea, but it had gone sideways. The drinking; the drugs; the casual sex; the mysterious cloaked figure who stood behind her now. His hands were on her shoulders, placed there lightly, almost casually, but somehow menacing, reminding her that he was in control, that she could not go except by his leave.

He spoke, his voice like gravel; like sandpaper; like leaves in a graveyard, the farthest thing from the New Orleans jazz, which she’d discovered — but would never admit — that she couldn’t stand, but which she’d give anything to hear right now.

“You needed to see your true self,” he said. “Behold!”

With that, the lights came up and the cheerleader found herself standing before a row of mirrors, all designed to display grotesque, distorted images of whomever stood before them. She appeared disturbingly fat, obese, twisted, ugly.

So, I’m thinking about doing NaNoWriMo 2011 purely at the whim of the Hoopla deck. A drawing of 3 cards at midnight to start the story. Perhaps drawing a card a day after that? We shall see. Might be a fun experiment….